Global Warming: One Big Step Backwards, but still More Steps Forward
Frigid temperatures often raise a lot of scoffing of the idea of global warming. Global warming is often condemned by conservatives as a “conspiracy” of liberals to control business with additional regulations. Everything’s always all about corporate power, and what they “deserve”, and what everyone’s trying to “take” from them.
Now, Rush Limbaugh echoed this sentiment, accusing liberals of just now making up the concept of a “polar vortex”.
What such detractors ignore, is that part of the warming process includes severe shifts like these, such as the “weather whiplash” we are experiencing, where the temperature shoots up or down by as much as 50 degrees in less than a day.
You can’t look at one instance of it being cold, even colder than usual sometimes, as proof the overall climate is not getting warmer.
The movie The Day After Tomorrow characterized to a great extreme the severe weather changes that can erupt from an event. When I first heard the term “polar vortex”, I immediately thought of the huge, icy, cyclone-like “super storms” that developed in the northern hemisphere and instantly froze everything solid with -150° temperatures. I figured that must be the extreme of a polar vortex, though I don’t remember if this term was used in the movie. The concept is surely related!
I had explained to some people on Facebook, the best way to think of this is to take a jagged line, where it alternates between upward and downward slopes. If you tilt it upward, the overall progress is going up. But the downward sloped portions are still heading downward, so if you look at only one of those segments, you will see the progress as downward, but it’s really part of a larger pattern that is heading upward. Another common analogy us “two steps forward, one step backward”.
Another great example is type 2 diabetes. You normally associate this with high blood sugar, but it also causes an imbalance of the sugar levels, where it will also drop to too low (and this is what can cause you to pass out, or enter a “diabetic coma”).
So when you see the sugar is low, you don’t say “oh; I don’t have diabetes; my sugar is too low, not too high“.
I first conceived this analogy years ago from reading Mike Regele’s The Death of the Church (Zondervan, 1995), where he mentioned much touted momentary “bursts of success” in modern church growth measures, and concludes “If one could step back from it all, he or she would see that these bursts occur within a larger trajectory of demise“. (p.183 emphasis added).
Just replace the downward overall trend of the church with the upward overall trend of weather, and you see what’s likely going on.